Allergic reactions can be gentle, mild, or harsh. In some circumstances, they are life-threatening, in the form of anaphylaxis. We describe what an allergen is and what types of consequences it can have on the body.
Allergic reactions consist of the body observing a substance (called an allergen) as dangerous that it is not. Given this, an excessive immune response is initiated to try to fight the agent.
The obstacle is that allergic reactions significantly conflict with everyday life. Depending on how severe it is, it can be a dangerous enigma for the person who experiences it.
Furthermore, allergies can be incorporated into food, respiratory, and skin, which indicates a type of them. In this article, we describe everything you need to understand about each of them and which are the most frequent allergens.
Most common allergens
As we have heeded, allergens are elements that trigger allergic reactions. In a healthy person, this substance does not cause any obstacles. However, those who perform hypersensitivity, do stimulate the immune system so that the body tries to shield itself from this assumed threat.
The frequency of allergic reactions has increased dramatically in the current years. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, nearly 7.8 million children had respiratory allergies in 2012.
Moreover, 50% of the people who undergo a fatal allergic reaction were not perceived to have any allergies before the situation. Another study affirms that 50% of children are sensitive to at least one allergen.
However, this does not indicate that allergic reactions happen or are diagnosed in adolescence. In fact, the dilemma is that in many situations the opposite happens. For example, in drug allergies.
The most frequent allergens are dander from animals (such as cats and dogs), pollen and, dust mites. Also, foods like shellfish, nuts, or particular fish are on the record. Others less familiar are insect bites, such as bees or wasps, and some plants.
Types of allergic reactions
Allergic reactions can be of various types. First of all, they are ranked based on their depth. Therefore we find gentle, mild, harsh, and life-threatening reactions. The latter is described as an anaphylactic reaction and we will talk about it next.
Another way to distinguish allergic reactions is according to the apparatus or body system that is involved. That is how the allergen comes into association with the body and triggers the effect. In this way, there are food, respiratory, and skin.
A food allergy is one that happens quickly after consuming a particular food. A large quantity of it doesn’t need to be ingested, but small parts can trigger the reaction.
The symptoms that take place in this type of allergy are normally linked to the digestive system. For example, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. However, they are not restricted to just that part of the body. There is also shortness of breath, cough, and hoarseness. The skin may have swarmed, as well as the eyes may be itchy and red.
Several foods create this situation. However, according to the FDA ( United States Food and Drug Administration ), 90% of food allergic reactions normally happen due to eight specific products which are fish, crustaceans, nuts, milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans.
It is necessary to note that food intolerances should not be mixed with allergies. Intolerances do not harm the immune system and are not as bad as reactions. They consist of the incapacity to digest certain substances.
Respiratory allergy is one of the most prominent and most disturbing since in most cases it is difficult to stay away from the allergen. It is linked with different entities: rhinitis, asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and alveolitis.
Allergic rhinitis consists of the infection of the nasal mucosa when in contact with the allergen. It normally produces an increase in mucus, which causes a feeling of congestion and nasal stuffiness. When this condition is linked with conjunctivitis, it leads to allergic rhinoconjunctivitis. In this case, in addition to the symptoms discussed, there is inflammation of the conjunctiva.
Asthma, meanwhile, is a constant respiratory disease. What happens is that the bronchi undergo a continuous inflammatory process. This makes this duct narrower and narrower and the air cannot reach the alveoli in a normal way. It can occur in the form of a crisis when there is exposure to the allergen in question.
Finally, allergic alveolitis is a pathology that consists in that the alveoli themselves are the ones that become inflamed. The alveoli are the parts of the lung where gas exchange occurs. In this entity, there is also usually fever and general malaise.
The most common allergens are pollens, fungi, mites, and domestic animals (dogs and cats).
Allergic skin reactions can happen from having a connection with the allergen through the skin. First, we find hives. It consists of the appearance of edematous lesions called hives and reddish. They produce a lot of itching and even prickling.
This reaction is normally a manifestation of taking a portion of food or medicine to which you are allergic. Eczema is the other presentation. It is a reaction in which papules, vesicles, and scaling appear. The most frequent allergens that cause it are nickel and other metals.
Serious allergic reactions: anaphylaxis
Among allergic reactions, anaphylaxis is the severe clinical picture that puts lives at risk. Anaphylaxis happens because the immune system discharges a large number of substances against the allergen.
These substances cause blood vessels to dilate, lower blood pressure, and close the airways. It can be followed by vomiting and nausea, in addition to an increase in heart rate.
It is an urgent condition that needs the rapid administration of adrenaline. As we discussed at the beginning, in 50% of the people suffering from this condition there was not even a previous allergen recognized. However, certain circumstances increase your risks, such as asthma and heart disease.
What should you do if you face allergic reactions?
Anyone should be examined against the most popular allergens if they have impersonated any of the symptoms we have discussed. If an allergy to a particular substance is identified, it is necessary to take into account certain perspectives.
First of all, you have to try to avoid this allergen. In the case of food reactions, pay consideration to the labels of all foods. We suggest wearing a necklace or bracelet that shows a dangerous substance.
On the other hand, the idea is to have an emergency kit for the likelihood of anaphylaxis. Furthermore, if there has ever been a reaction to a drug, it is necessary to inform the doctor so that this is recorded in history.
Allergic reactions can be serious
Allergies are common. The most popular is that they are mild reactions that only produce pain. However, we must keep in mind that this can lead to severe complications. Therefore, you should constantly follow medical advice.
Currently, numerous tests allow us to check if there is hypersensitivity to any material. They are easy to perform and painless. Therefore, do not hesitate to ask if you have any questions about a possible allergen.